Inventing Accuracy

From Inside Technology

Inventing Accuracy

A Historical Sociology of Nuclear Missile Guidance

By Donald MacKenzie

"Mackenzie has achieved a masterful synthesis of engrossing narrative, imaginative concepts, historical perspective, and social concern."Thomas P. Hughes, Mellon Professor of the History and Sociology of Science, The University of Pennsylvania





"Mackenzie has achieved a masterful synthesis of engrossing narrative, imaginative concepts, historical perspective, and social concern."

Donald MacKenzie follows one line of technology—strategic ballistic missile guidance through a succession of weapons systems to reveal the workings of a world that is neither awesome nor unstoppable. He uncovers the parameters, the pressures, and the politics that make up the complex social construction of an equally complex technology.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262132589 480 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


$55.00 X ISBN: 9780262631471 480 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


  • Inventing Accuracy is a brilliant achievement that will, if we are fortunate, change widespread misunderstandings about technological innovation. The strength of this book lies not only in its extremely clear and nuanced theoretical statements, but also in its rich historical narrative. This book should be of great interest to a diverse audience. It also provides a creative, if extremely demanding, model for future scholarship on technology and national security.

    Lynn Eden


  • This is a great piece of sociology and a great book.... gripping, superbly researched, fair, sympathetic, and ultimately, hopeful.

    Steven Shapin

    American Journal of Sociology


  • MacKenzie's study challenges conventional models of technical determinism of the race in sophisticated weaponry and replaces it with a carefully drawn model of the social formation of technical change. The detailed empirical examination and sociological framework set a new standard for the historical and social study of technology.

    Everett Mendelsohn

    Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University

  • Meticulous research and acute analysis are here combined in an exceptionally readable text. Inventing Accuracy is going to be a paradigm for studies in the history and sociology of technology for years to come.

    Ruth Schwartz Cowan

    Professor of History, State University of New York at Stony Brook


  • Winner of the 1993 Ludwik Fleck Prize presented by the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S).